Module R-9:The Iron Castle Of The Vampire Queen

…for characters of level 9 or higher


CritterCon 12


Trip Day Eleven: In Which We Finally Return To Hogar Dulce Hogar


Well, folks, we got home around 11:45. mostly thanks to an airspeed of 225 mph. It’s good to be home.

The kids have invited over about 40 of their school chums are giving them a detailed and perhaps embellished recap of the whole trip.

Luke is in a conference call with his agent and some other folks regarding future projects.

Misty is taking a nap, as is Grace.

Sasha is in her lab, reviewing everything that’s gone on these past 11 days.

All in all, it was another fun trip and great convention. I was told that next year, it being the 13th CritterCon, the con will have a “Halloween In August” theme. Sounds hella fun.

So, that’s it for this year’s report.


When we were about 15 minutes from home, I got called into a family meeting. It went like this.

Grace: Sit down, honey. Okay, we all have something to tell you and we want you to take it without any attitude.

Misty: Polite acceptance, Doctor!

Sasha: And without any comment, Daddy!

Luke: Umm, yeah, what they said.

Grace: So, we want to say that this year’s trip to the con was a definite change of pace and we did enjoy it. But, well, it was a little boring.

Misty: Even with the various adventures, it was…lacking.

Sasha: What we’re saying is that next year you can plan the whole fucking route and, Daddy, if you say a word right now I’ll freeze you in carbonite.

Luke: Here’s the 20 bucks I owe you, Dad. I really didn’t think they’d come out and admit it.

Sasha: He’s gonna spend all year looking up every fucking goofball stop in North America.

And that’s why I’m smiling big Gentle Readers.

See y’all next year!

Destination Sign When We Started: All The Way
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Inner Sanctum

QM Radio Station: The Beatles On 6 Earths

Critter Con 12 is over,
but we will all be back next year for…

Critter Con 13

(With added teenage NHT and many interesting stops)


Pork Chop Salad

… Mmmmmm



CritterCon 12

Trip Day Ten: In Which We Get Our Kicks Above Route 66


We woke up this morning with the Bus straddling the Texas/New Mexico border, about a mile north of Interstate 40, much of which took the place of old Route 66.

Once we were all ready for travel, I revealed that we would follow Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica, using as much of the old route as possible, BUT, we would be flying above it at an altitude of around 200 feet. Our airspeed would be about 100 miles an hour.

Yes, they are letting me plan the route home, but with no actual stops except to eat. I’ll take my victories where I can.

Our trip was scheduled for about 13 hours, so we left at 9:00 am. I had Sweetie turn the walls of the living room clear, so we could enjoy the view. I had thought about doing it to the floor, but was met with highly vocal resistance, mostly from my beloved wife.

Of course, we were fully cloaked so as to prevent massive traffic accidents an the road below us.

The trip, while very scenic, was somewhat boring and most of us spent it reading or playing games. Cupcake continues her domination in Ticket To Ride, having beaten her brother and I three times in a row. On the other hand, she owes me 10 zillion dollars from poker losses.

Our lunch stop was for tortas at a place in Gallup and they were excellent. We also nosed around a gift shop for a bit. From there, we kept on truckin’ until we got well into Arizona, at which point we went to Meteor Crater National Landmark. We got off the bus and did the tour of the exhibit and stuff because it would be educational for the kids. Later, as we were getting on the bus, I told everyone that now I’d show then something REALLY educational.

First we flew down into the crater and cruised around a bit. Then, we backed off about 30 miles and 49,000 years and watched the actual impact. That got a big “Wow!” out of the grandkids. It’s a pretty impressive event. When they’re older, I’ll take them to see Tunguska and then the dinosaur killer.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. I did kick our speed up to 175 mph so we could have dinner in Santa Monica, which we did. After that we parked on the beach where we will spend the night. In the morning, we’ll head home. We should arrive about noon.

More blogging tomorrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Itchycoo Park
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Hotel California

QM Radio Station: Swingpunk Radio

Don’t Tease The Flesh Golem!

…he’s sensitive

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Nine (Con Day 4): In Which More Games Are Played, Love & Hate Go Center Stage, Goodbyes Are Said, And Good Lord, Is There Ever Pie


It is late and I need to bust ass to finish this before midnight. Quick and dirty, folks!

Breakfast: Waffles From Outer Space! Ate too much.

Morning games: Betrayal At House On The Hill, Dog Poker, The Fantasy Trip, The Crazy Game Boardgame Expansion #1: City Pitch

(Luke: Dad got his usual 5 gallons of Butter & Bacon flavored syrup.)

Lunch: Tamalemania, where I ate pork barbacoa tamales and drank horchata.

(Cupcake: Horchata is REALLY good!)

Afternoon Panel: “We Loves It, We Hates It!” Spike and I have been on this panel for years now and it’s always fun whipping the crowd into a frenzy over things geeks hate and love. It was held in an auditorium that seats 2,000 people and was SRO.

Afternoon Other Stuff: Got drinks at Mink’s Cold Drinks, took one last stroll through the Dealer’s Room, said goodbye to many folks.

(Cupcake: I’m going to miss my adventuring homegirls.)

(Brownie: I’m gonna miss Chance.)

The con ended at 5:00 and as always, the Goodbye CritterCon pie feed started up an hour later. They had 100 different types of pies this year and I tried 6 of them. I believe Brownie summed it up best when he said “Holy crap! That’s a lot of pie!”

(Sasha: Whoever thought of Hot Dog Pie, I love you!)

About 7:30, we got on the Bus and started beaming our friends home. By 8:00 the Cross family was heading out of Critter City until next year. We were all pretty tired. And very full of pie.

Sweetie will sort of meander toward New Mexico tonight, then stop at the border. In the morning, we will start the trip home in earnest.

More trip news tomorrow.

Destination Sign When We Started: The Sea of Green

QM Radio Station: Music To Sleep By


Wicked Hamsters Belittled My Emu

…so he ate the little fuckers

CritterCon 12


Trip Day Eight (Con Day 3): In Which The Great And Powerful Cupcake Rides A Dragon, Old Time Radio Is Done, Cars Go To War, And Pubs Are Crawled

The day started with breakfast in bed for everyone, once again courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Bunnington, or whatever their names are now. It was relaxing and delicious.

After brekky and performing our ablutions, we all scattered to the four winds and gaming goodness. My personal destination, along with the female grandchild, was a game of D&D 5e on the “Girls Rule!” track. I had been tapped to run the game the night before when the original DM had to leave the con for an appendectomy. She is okay now, but not nearly up to riding heard on 8 little girls between the physical/mental ages of 7 to 9.

The cast of characters, all of whom used their real first names “because it’s easier that way”, was…

Heather, a wood elf ranger
Cupcake, a human wizard
Taffy, a dwarf fighter
Kinita, a human fighter

Anna, a halfling cleric
Sookie, a wood elf sorceror
Melli, a halfling rogue
Zoe, a dwarf fighter

I’ll note that Cupcake, Taffy, Sookie and Zoe are NHT (gorilla, cat, dog & dog).

The plot was that an evil king and his evil army were getting ready to ride forth and conquer the good kingdoms. Our Heroines, the Sisters of Adventure, had to find magic items and such to hopefully stop them. The problem was that the dungeon they needed to explore was very, VERY near Dragon Mountain, home of several easily upset dragons.

Insert here many thrilling scenes in the dungeon, during which powerful items were found, monsters were slain and traps were narrowly avoided. By the time they exited the dungeon, 3.5 hours of the 4 hour game were over and I really had to pee. I told the girls to plan their attack on the evil king while I was gone.

When I came back, they had their plan and it was a doozy. They had decided to enlist the help of the dragons by offering to use the Ring Of One Wish they had found to set up a heavily protective magic wall around Dragon Mountain that would only let dragons, animals and “nice true friends of dragons” in and out. I had Anna, the cleric and designated diplomat, make a Persuasion roll and she rolled a natural 20. The dragons were all for it!

And so, on the backs of 8 dragons, with 6 more following, they flew out to meet the evil army, who quite naturally decided that maybe the peaceful life was pretty good after all. The evil king tried to use a magical staff against one dragon, but failed his roll and got eaten in a single gulp, prompting Cupcake to give this little speech.

“Listen up, you dummies! I am the Great and Powerful Cupcake and these are my homegirls and our dragon friends. If you try any more war stuff, we will come back here and kick your asses and let the dragons eat you! So be good, or else!”

The other girls cheered and I declared the adventure over and a great success. I got 8 hugs and, as the merry band of young Amazons left the room, Cupcake told them “That’s my grandpa! He’s pretty great.”

After the game, I was on a panel called “D&D Over The Years”. 75% of the audience was younger than the bandana I was wearing (25 years) and they were amazed that D&D had been around so long. By about the 15 minute mark, everyone on the panel felt like some sort of Olde Game Reenactor, or maybe a museum exhibit. Still, it went very well.

I had enough time to grab a 48 ounce Matcha Green Tea smoothie at Juicy Lucy’s Sexy Smoothies, then haul ass over to the radio station in time to scarf down 2 donuts before doing my part in our programs for Olde Time Radio Day. Our first half hour show was an original episode of “The Shadow”, in which I played the title role. Our second show was an original episode of “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar”, in which I played George Walsh, an attorney. Both shows went off without a hitch and we all had fun.
It now being 3:00, I hiked on over to join Brian, Mark, Misty and Lettie in a huge Car Wars event. It was an offroad race that started in a desert and then went up into some wooded hills. The terrain did just about as much damage as our weapons did, including tearing off the passenger door of my car when I sideswiped a tree.

In the end, a guy named Hank took first place, Misty took second and a lady named Olivia took 3rd. The rest of us either died or were too messed up to continue.

It was now after 5 and I headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I was slowed up a few times by short conversations and once to watch a game of Steam Tank Battle!, a game that looked pretty cool. So yeah, I got back to our suite at 5:45, washed up, changed clothes and Grace and I headed out to meet everyone at Big Slabs O’ Meat.

Although a few of our party (Luke, the kids, Goldie, Leon, Miranda) were otherwise engaged, we all dined well on beef, pork and lamb with assorted fixings. We chatted while we ate and then finished up with dessert, in my case, bread pudding.

After leaving the restaurant, we all set out on a con sponsored pub crawl. The idea was to start at one end of Pub Row, play a game while having a drink, then move on to the next pub. And so we are doing just that.

There are 12 pubs, taverns, saloons and such on Pub Row. It’s 10:00 pm and we have just left #4, “Beer, Y’all!”. This could wind up being a long night.

More reportage in the morning.
Continue reading “Wicked Hamsters Belittled My Emu”

Good God, Sir, Have You No Morals?

…yes, but they’re pretty malleable

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Seven (Con Day 2): In Which Many Shenanigans Take Place, Mud Is Applied, Weenies Are Compared And Partying Is Pulperiffic


It is very late, like, 2:45 in the morning, and I am more than a little intoxicated and tired from partying. You, Gentle Readers, must excuse the brevity of the days summary of events.

Breakfast: We ate at Chez Mom’s. It was very good. I had a country fried steak, gravy, two scrambled eggs and two biscuits. Thus I paid tribute to my Texas ancestors.

At 9:30 am, I played in the live dungeon with Mark, Cathy, Sadie F., Shasta, Brownie and Chance. We had one hour to escape from the Dungeon of the Mad Wizard and it was a hell of a run. We hack, slashed, cajoled, threatened, snuck and magicked our way out with a whole 14 seconds to spare.

At 10, I ran a Toon game for 12 people. It went very well.

At 2:00 a bunch of us ate hotdogs in a park. Some of the hotdogs came from Ed’s Big Weenie and some came from The Dog Cart and some came from a new place, Hot Buns! We compared weenies and agreed that they were all pretty damned good.

At 3:00, we all went off for our annual mud bath spa day at Mud In Your Eye Spa. As always, the cats went for a massage without the mud bath. The three kids all fell asleep in the mud, as did about half of us adults.

We were back at the con by 5. I played in a 2 hour Dread game that involved trying to get into town, get a scientist, then get out of town, all without getting eaten by brain hungry living dead or getting killed by CIA agents. We succeeded, but only just.

Dinner was at Curry On Eating!, which was delicious as always. We finished by 8, which gave us an hour to get ready for the big theme party. This year’s theme was PULPED!, so we all got costumes to make us look like pulp characters. I was some sort of Great White Hunter.

We left our younger contingent in the big Kid’s Party area, under the watchful eye of many moms & dads and Uncle Luke & Auntie Misty. From there, we went to a cozy little get together with 4 bands and about 2,000 pulped out geeks.

We danced, we drank, we chatted and Mary & I even got a whole bunch (300!) of folks to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a great party.

And now I’m hitting the sack, y’all. Jeeves will wake me in about 5 hours with a tall mug of his legendary hangover cure, then at 9:00 I will be running D&D for 8 young ladies between the ages of 7 and 9.

More bloggage soon.

Chapter 415: In Which Our Hero, Temporarily Bereft Of Funds And In Debt At A Brothel, Robs A French Prince While Dressed As A Strumpet

…BEFORE any business could take place



CritterCon 12


Trip Day Six (Con Day 1): In Which Games Are Played, Panels Are Participated In, Food Is Eaten, And Werewolves Are Not Found In London


As I often do when reporting on cons, I will be giving the quick and dirty version of the day’s events. Critters will comment as they see fit.

Breakfast for the whole bunch of us was at Waffles From Outer Space, a long time favorite partly because of their butter flavored syrup.

(Sasha: Despite how much I kid Daddy about his various obsessions, that syrup really is some great tasting stuff.)

My first game was actually a demo being done outside the entrance to the convention center. It was a card game called “Vanishing Dungeon” and the idea was you lay out 24 cards to create a dungeon, then try to be the person who gets out with the most loot as the dungeon disappears a bit more each round. The whole game takes about 20 minutes to play and gets frantic as you near the end. I did not win, having jumped from a vanishing room right into a pit trap.

(Lettie: Mom and I played that later in the day. It was lots of fun and Mom won.)

My next game, which Luke and Peter joined me for, was Ticket To Ride, but it used a map of Middle Earth. Peter won with the longest route (Hobbiton to Laketown).

(Luke: I was trying for the Lonely Mountain to Mordor route, but alas, I got blocked twice .)

My first seminar of the con was with Peter and two other GMs and the subject was “Running A Spy Game”. Our audience was full of folks with many questions and we covered The Man From U.N.C.L.E, James Bond, and many other espionage movies, tv shows, novels and real life spy agencies.

Departing Peter’s company and meeting up with Sasha, Sadie M. and Roxie, we headed to the Dealer’s Room. Once there, we wandered around a bit and then played a game called “Chimps Attack!” by an NHT company out of Gorilla City. The premise is that chimpanzees have become sapient and are trying to conquer first Africa, then the world. Things were leaning toward the chimps until both Roxie and I drew the “Heroic Sacrifice” card and crashed a fuel truck and a heavy bomber into Chimp HQ, thus turning the tide.

(Sasha: For you non-NHT out there, the worry among NHT that chimps, who are WAY too much like humans, might become sapient, is a very real thing that we constantly guard against.)

Taking a short break from CritterCon to have lunch, I met up with Spike, Mary, Misty, Grace, Avis and Ginie at Mistress Diana’s Dungeon Diner. Great food and the service is excellent…or else. Half the fun was watching certain members of our table blush.

(Misty: You humans and your qualms about sex are just hilarious to the rest of us. I will note that neither the Doctor or Spike blushed at all.)

All the children (Cupcake, Brownie, Chance) ate at Pizza My Heart with Uncle Luke and the Misiaszek family, because it is a much more family oriented place.

(Brownie: They had a pizza buffet! You could eat as much as you wanted!)

After a short stroll with Spike to settle our lunch, we met up with Mark, Brian, Leon & Goldie to play Ogre. When I asked Mark where Cathy and the girls were, he just said “Firefly Tournament”. Those of us who know Cathy know that she is a huge Firefly fan and could very well win the tourney.

(Shasta: Yes, our mom is a Firefly addict.)

I would love to tell you how our intrepid ground forces defeated the Ogre tank, but the fact is we got our asses handed to us. Not an unusual outcome for Ogre.

(Goldie: So. Many. Missiles.)

After a short meetup with Grace, Sasha, Mary and the by now totally wound up kids, I went to the live streaming of the NHT podcast “Two Dogs, A Goat And A Game”, where I was drafted both as a guest and an announcer for two commercials. The bulk of the show was discussing the con, but we did do about 10 minutes of talking about Daisy & Max and their contribution to the NHT gaming hobby. It was a fun 90 minutes.

(Sasha: Daisy & Max once guest hosted that podcast.)

I spent another hour in the Dealer’s Room, mostly talking to folks, then went back to the hotel for a quick shower before dinner. Thanks to the wonders of texting, those of us not involved in long running events decided to eat at a new steak house, Miss Steaks. It’s a female owned and operated place and I’ll tell you, they really do steaks proper. My New York steak was tender and delicious. Don’t even get me started on the chipotle mashed potatoes or the dinner rolls. Yum!

(Luke: I had a T-Bone, bone and all.)

After dinner, I had Grandpa Duty and took the three young’uns off to play in a D&D 5e game called “The Woods of the Werewolf”. I was one of two adult players with 5 kids. We braved many dangers before finding out that the werewolf was just an old hermit. He did have a werewolf fang though, which he gave us in exchange for a sack of hard candy. We took the fang back to the king, told him the werewolf was dead and collected our 300 gold piece reward.

(Cupcake: He was a nice old man, but at first, my brother the Trash Panda wanted to smite him with his mace.)

By now it was 9:00 and Cupcake, Brownie & Chance were fading fast. I tucked them in bed and went off to join the other adults and about 300 other con goers at a new club off of Pub Row, The Cobalt Club. Yes, straight out of The Shadow stories and movie. Technically, it’s a supper club with entertainment, but if you want to just sit and drink and talk or people watch, you can. It’s a great place and you can get drinks with alcohol, synthehol or just mocktails.

So it’s 11:00 now, this joint is jumpin’ and none of our group seems inclined to leave yet. I think I’ll order another synthescotch and get back to discussing whatever we were talking about.

See y’all tomorrow!

Dr. Silkmelon And Mr. Porkwaffle Observe A Disturbance In The Forest

…caused by a very large moose

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Five: In Which We Arrive In Critter City, Have A Good Cry, And Gather Together Our Extended Family

NOTE: You have probably wondered where the critter commentary is this year. Truth is, they all decided to just comment once we got to the con, so you’ll start seeing their witty bon mots soon.

The drive from the RV park to Critter City takes about 30 minutes, so we decided to eat when we got there. As it turns out, breakfast was delayed a bit.

We knew it was coming, but when we drove into the Critter City dome and saw the three large statues honoring Silky, Daisy and Max, it hit us hard. I stopped the bus and we all just stared and cried for several minutes. Our hearts are probably set back a bit on the healing path now.

(Sasha: I knew it was coming because I donated money for it, but it still ripped my heart out.)

(Luke: Total gut punch.)

(Misty: I was gutted.)

After a few minutes, Cupcake said “Okay, you guys, we need to go now. They would not want us crying when there is a really fun con to go to.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

(Sasha: That’s my girl.)

So we continued driving in toward the hotel, where we had Sweetie open a portal to the Austin airport and our friends stepped through. This year we had Avis Crane and her two cats (Leon & Lettie), a young mixed breed dog we met last year whose name just happens to be Chance, Ginie Murphy and her cat (Roxie), Peter & Holly Hildreth and their dog & cat (Goldie & Penny), Brian Misiaszek and his family and dog (Sadie M.), Spike, Mary & Miranda Jones, and CritterCon first timers Mark & Cathy Ford and their 2 dogs (Sadie F. & Shasta).

(Luke: It was great to see everyone again, especially young Chance, now that I know about his special nature.)

(Leon: Great to be back!)

(Cupcake: Wow! This is a lot of people!)

Since it was 10:00 am and we were starving, we all decided to go across the street and have breakfast at Pancakeville. As always, the breakfast was great and we left stuffed. Thankfully, the walk back to the hotel was short.

(Brownie: Dude, I ate 4 pancakes and 4 sausages. My tummy is fat!)

Penny: They had whole grilled catfish on the breakfast menu!)

When we got up to the front desk, the folks there greeted us warmly and handed me a short note. It read,


Dear everyone,
This year is on us. Have fun!
Daisy & Max


(Luke: Max & Daisy, you are a class act.)

That stopped us all cold for a moment, you betcha. A few tissues were needed. D&M, I know you are reading this, or will soon, so thank you from all of us.

To paraphrase John Hammond in Jurassic Park, Mr & Mrs Bunnington spared no expense and rented us the entire top floor, plus the penthouse cabin & garden. Fully stocked fridges and bars, too. Now, I should point out that only four floors of the hotel are above ground. The other 20 are underground. Therefore, the penthouse cabin is not that far above ground level. Still, the view is nice and the garden is lovely and attracts lots of birds and insects.

(Leon: I miss my bunny homeboy, but damn, this is swanky.)

Grace and I took the penthouse and everyone else got their suites, including all the critters, who shared the largest NHT specific suite. After a short break to get settled in and freshen up, we all went off to collect out badges and swag bags.

The badges were all “magical amulets” that had a 3D image of an elf inside them. Pretty cool.

The swag bag was a large canvas bag containing the following…

The con book, which this year took the form of a wizard’s spell book.
The usual assorted fliers and coupons.
Three card games: “Bag The Bees”, “Mystery House: Vampire Manor” and “Pirate Race.
Two small board games: “Big Steam City” and “Art Heist”
Several quickstart rules for RPGs
A CritterCon 12 pin
A random miniature for the “Explorers of the Monster Realm” game.

(Chance: THIS IS SO COOL!)

(Cupcake: I know, right? Free games!)

(Brownie: This is the BEST PLACE EVER!)

Not a bad haul, really, especially after last year’s rather light load.

Swag bags in hand, we wandered around meeting all sorts of old and new friends. Cupcake and Brownie were pretty boggled by it all and Avis’ new cat, Lettie, wasn’t too far behind them. After about an hour of wandering, we went back to the hotel to peruse the con book.

(Lettie: WOW! I have never been anywhere like this! Is that a capybara?)

(Sasha: Yeah. His name is Earl and he’s the favorite of his human, who owns 14 more besides him.)

Some of us are running official games or doing seminars, but here is the breakdown.

Me: 2 Toon games, 1 Call of Cthulhu game, 3 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Spike: 1 AD&D game, 2 seminars, 1 Old Time Radio episode

Brian: 2 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Leon Crane: 2 minis wargames (cats are big on minis wargames)

Misty, Grace & Mary: 2 hours in the Children’s Game Room

(Roxie: I doubt I could do that.)

Luke & Misty: Improv for NHT Gamers seminar

(Misty: It should be fun. 40 seats already sold out.)

Sasha: A 2 hour stint at KCCC radio doing a “Grrlz of Punk & Metal” show.

(Sasha: I’m gonna make ears bleed with female musical asskicking!)

The kids, including young Chance, who, I hasten to say, is just an ordinary dog, didn’t know what to choose, so all the various uncles & aunties helped them out. They will have pretty full schedules.

After some con planning, it was mostly nap time, although Spike, Brian, Mark & I just hung out shooting the shit.

We ate dinner at two new places, Big Mama’s Badass Burgers and Game of Cones where we had ice cream for dessert. Both places were excellent.

(Luke: Lordy, those were some excellent burgers.)

We are all about to go to the big pre-con party, a Cheesecake & Bourbon bash. Children and those with early bedtimes will only be there for an hour or so. Many of the rest of us will be there until they close it down.

(Sasha: I’ll be drinking for me and Silky tonight!)

The con reporting fun will resume tomorrow.

Destination Sign When We Started: The Baxter Building
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Gallifrey

QM Radio Station: Gnomish Storysongs

The Return Of Pete The Wonder Monkey

…he’s back and ready to party in your ear.

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Four: In Which We Enter Oklahoma, Then Texas, Only To Find Both States Full Of Kaiju

I would like to apologize for the brevity of this post, but it has been a very long day. 19 hours long, to be exact. Here’s the short and sweet of it.

We woke up, ate breakfast as we left Dodge City, then everyone except Grace & Sasha suited up in “Giant Mecha Control Suits” so we could go out and fight the hordes of Kaiju that apparently found the Sooner State and the Lone Star State very attractive for destruction.

We fought old favorite and brand new kaiju for 90 minutes before we stopped at “The World Famous Musical House”. Said house was built of reinforced concrete and has holes through it that allegedly make musical sounds when a tornado tears through the area. Since there was tornado, we listened to a recording that was a mix of horn sounds and howling wind. Mostly, it was wind.

Another 2 hours of beating the shit out of kaiju, and getting our asses kicked once, found us deep in Oklahoma at Muller’s Ice Cream Parlor “Home of the Giant Banana Split Challenge”. They set you out this humongous banana split with two gallons of ice cream on it and if one person eats it in an hour, your entire ticket is paid and you get a t-shirt and your picture on the wall. As they set it down in front of me, Cupcake told the server “You are going to see some shit go down now.”

I finished the whole thing in 32 minutes. It was very good.

Back on the bus for 2 hours of napping. When we woke up, we were in Texas and Grace had decided we needed to stop in the center of some little pissant town where a preacher stood on a small stage under a sign saying “There is but one God. Debate me if you think otherwise.” So, Sasha, in her regular dog body, did just that.

The poor old religion pusher and most of the town were struck dumb by a talking dog and when Sasha started up the holograms of her creating life like the ottopuses and the flying monkey and Joyce the giant spider, many of then started to quiver and quake and moan. When she showed herself building the cyborg body for Lucy and later creating Mr. Perkins out of dead body parts, several people screamed. By the time she summoned her own Ottopus arms, her Iron Dog armor and began talking about “Not some puny God, but a glorious world ruling DOG!”, I’m pretty sure the ones who didn’t run shit themselves. It was hella impressive.

A small lunch on the bus and we went back to fighting kaiju, this time 10 versions of Gojira himself. That was brutal, let me tell you.

Then, around 3:30 pm, we got knocked sideways in spacetime by a power surge to one of out Quantum Destabilizers.

Insert here 8 hours of us shifting from Earths 50 to 80 quanta out, most of which seemed to be shitholes run by either Republicans or the Confederacy or the Communists. We did lots of running and fighting. Sasha did a lot of cursing while trying to fix things.

We arrived back here at 3:38 pm two miles down the road from where we blinked out. Everyone was pretty frazzled, but for 3 more hours we stayed alert for any further quantum slippage.

We are now in JimBob’s RV Park and I am the last one to go to bed. Sasha gave everyone some Rejuvenol mixed with Breath of Morpheus and you have never heard such snoring. I’m about to drink mine and fall into bed. Jeeves has said he will have a hearty breakfast ready in the morning.

Good night. More con reportage tomorrow.


Destination Sign When We Started: Innsmouth

Destination Sign When We Stopped: Jokertown

QM Radio Station: News Of The Multiverse

Dogs Riding Motorcycles, Cats Driving Sports Cars, Mice In Pickup Trucks




CritterCon 12

Trip Day Three: In Which Our Merry Band Of Adventurers Deal With Assorted Invasions And A Flea Market Of Unusual Size.

For our third day, we woke up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, several hundred miles east of where we went to bed in Kanab. Apparently, somebody who was not me told Sweetie to drive through the night to get there.

After out usual hearty breakfast, which for me was four tamales with extra gravy, we once again sallied forth into the cab of the bus, which was now a high tech government vehicle designed to repel and/or destroy the many extra-dimensional invaders that wanted to conquer Earth.

Under the leadership of General Sasha, we went to our positions. Doctor Misty was our Science Officer, Colonel Luke was our Engineer, Captain Grandpa was our Driver and those two scrappy Sergeants, Brownie & Cupcake, were our Gunners. As always, a place was reserved for President Grandma.

Our first invasion was the living dead, but not just dead humans. Many other species were looking to eat living flesh and that kept everyone busy. How so many Romero zombies got to southern Colorado was never explained, but by the time we hit our first stop at Fort Garland, we had shot, burned, blew up, run over and lasered 3,741 of the flesh eating sons of bitches. President Grandma gave us all medals and the thanks of a grateful nation.

Our stop in Fort Garland was to see “The Rusty Zoo”, or as Luke nicknamed it, “Tetanusville”. The place is another collection of things, this time animals, that some dude with lots of time on his hands made with a welding torch and a shitload of scrap metal. We’ve been to several of these places, some better than others.

The Rusty Zoo is solidly in the middle of that pack. It’s a pretty big place, about 30 acres, with actual paddocks and cages that I suspect are there to keep visitors from fucking themselves up on rusted metal. The actual sculptures range from okay to pretty darned good. This probably reflects the 45 years that the owner, Bob Higgins, spent making these things and learning his craft.

We were there about an hour and the place had a couple hundred visitors besides us. It was worth the $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per kid we paid. If you have deduced that we bought t-shirts and stuff, congratulations, Poirot.

Once we were back on the bus, we fortified ourselves with milkshakes and got back to offing invaders. This time out, it was Martians straight out of Mars Attacks! This was a tougher fight, but for 90 minutes we traded punches with those bulging headed fuckers. By the time President Grandma told us it was time for another excursion, we had at least chased the Martians off our planet. Ack Ack Ack to you, too, assholes!

The reason for out stop in Avondale, Colorado, was that there had been a huge flea market there the day before. Like, 3,000 spaces huge. Sadly, it was only held once a year, but that doesn’t mean much when you have a time machine. A few coordinates given to the bus and a few seconds later, we were in the parking lot just after opening.

Being smart flea market goers, we deployed a dozen cloaked SmartDrones to find the most likely spots for us to find intersting stuff. We also scouted out food trucks and booths, because lunch time was coming up fast.

We roamed around for over three hours and bought quite a few things, many of which Jeeves will no doubt turn his nose up at and eventually transfer to some side room.

I wish I could tell you about the next thrilling 4.5 hours, but the fact is that after wandering around in the heat, we all went in to nap mode about the time we returned to today. Most of us slept right through to Dodge City, Kansas, our stop for tonight.

Now, having had dinner and watched a Batman movie from Earth 4-A, we are all pretty much ready for more sleep. Tomorrow, we drive straight through (minus any interesting stops) from Dodge City to about 30 miles outside Critter City, at JimBob’s RV Park. About a 10 hour drive, all told.

More blogstuff tomorrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Over There
Destination Sign When We Stopped: The 3 Acre Wood

QM Radio Station: 24 Hour Rock Opera

The Big Broadcast Of 2010

…featuring all of your favorite stars

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Two: In Which We Actually Encounter Roadside Attractions While Buckling A Swash In The Sky

Sunday, August 11th, 8:49 PM

We began our day by once again re-configuring the cab of the Bus. This time, it was turned into a airship, seemingly floating a couple hundred feet above the road. The road itself looked to be running through a a lush countryside dotted with fields, forests, streams, lakes and rivers. Very peaceful.

The sky, however, was a different story. Our steampunky airship was closing fast on a merchant ship that Captain Cupcake was sure had a full cargo of treasure. First Mate Grandpa and Helmsman Brownie agreed with her and Boatswain Luke was preparing a boarding party. Meanwhile, Gunner Misty was readying our steam cannons.

In reality, we were heading across the Nevada desert towards Utah. We were going to be taking a long and winding way across the state on our way to wherever the hell our next leg of this journey took us. I held out little hope of us encountering a roadside attraction, but you never can tell what will pop up way out on the backroads of America.

We had just finished raiding the airship “Lili Marlene”, when High Captain Grandma told us it was time to eat breakfast and get ready to see “something interesting”. Since Grace does not toss the word “interesting” around lightly vis a vis travel attractions in the middle of the desert, we decided to do as she said.

After a hearty breakfast, I got dressed and the NHT portion of the family got into human bodies. A few minutes later we pulled into the small town of Panaca, Nevada, to see “The World Famous Carved Rock”. I’m not sure how world famous it actually is, but that doesn’t really matter in the world of roadside attractions.

The rock in question is a hunk of red sandstone about 90 feet long and maybe 40 feet high and 50 feet thick. It’s just laying there at the edge of town and, brothers & sisters, that sucker truly has been carved. Like, 90% of it is covered in carvings ranging from a few square inches to a few square yards. It’s quite impressive.

According to the possibly 150 year old guy that took out $2.00 each, folks started carving on the rock with hammers and chisels back in 1967 when the local high school needed a project for art class. That has become an annual event, along with ordinary citizens and the random visitor feeling artistic and having a go at rock carving.

You’ll see western scenes, animals, psychedelia, faces, actors, monsters and more than a few Star Trek/Wars scenes. After about 45 minutes of checking it out, the old dude, whose name it turned out was Ed, informed us we could “do some carvin’” for a mere $20.00 per hour per person. Those of us utterly lacking skills in that aspect of the arts (Luke & I) declined, as did Grace and Misty. Sasha, however, dashed into the Bus and came out with a bag and $60.00 for her and the kids.

Ed took the money and wished them well before heading into his house and out of the 90 degree heat. Them Sasha took the laser chisels out of her bag and the three of them set to carving.

Brownie’s effort, a pirate, looked about like what you’d expect from an 8 year old human. Cupcake’s carving of a sunflower showed some real artistic talent. Sasha’s carving of “Fuck Trump With A Flaming Baseball Bat” will probably not win her friends in this little red town, but then, she doesn’t give a fuck.

Back on the Bus, we all headed to the cab and some more time on our airship, which we decided was named the “Sky Queen”. Amazingly, we were joined by High Captain Grandma, because “I’m kind of bored”, which was good enough for us.

I should note here that Sweetie was on the lookout for any sort of interesting stuff for us to see, so our airship adventures, which included running from HMS Dragon AND the USS Thunder, were paused twice to see the scenic beauty of the Utah desert. We also had lunch.

It was shortly after we had rescued a group of children from the clutches of the notorious Captain Hades, he of the steam powered left leg and arm, that we stopped not far outside Cedar City to see “The World Famous Superman of Utah”.

Now, to be honest, I expected it to be a big statue of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, but no, it was a 60 foot tall statue of Clark Kent’s better half, hands on hips and cape flying in the wind. To be honest, it was an excellent mid-1950s version of Supes, and very well maintained. It’s free to look at, but you can’t go up inside it. You can buy all sorts of souvenirs, which we did. Not as good as a Giant Jesus, but pretty nice anyway.

From Cedar City, we headed south, then east toward our final stop of the day in Kanab, Utah. Except for a short stop to buy some Native American items from a roadside stand, we pretty much just flew the Sky Queen from those areas patrolled by the British and the Americans southward to areas patrolled by the French and Spanish, who were considerably less diligent about protecting merchant ships or, just before we all went to dinner, a floating casino.

Right now, we are all full of curry and playing some boardgames. I will tell you right now, my granddaughter is an absolute cutthroat at Catan.

Tomorrow, I am told that our route will be “surprising and very interesting”. We shall see.

More bloggage on the morrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Shangri La
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Toontown

QM Radio Station: Girls Groups!

We Don’t Speak Of The Purple Underwear

…we keep it locked away



CritterCon 12

Trip Day One 1: In Which The Starship “Bus” Goes Where No Blue Raccoon Has Gone Before

Saturday, August 10th, 8:30 PM

Well, our first day of travel went well. True to his word, Brownie woke me up at 6:30 so we could get going by 7:00. The two of us ate a couple of donuts, drank some milk and then climbed on board the Bus and left our home behind. We were ready for adventure!

And by golly, when Grandpa says adventure, he means it! I had Sweetie (the Bus’ nickname) reconfigure the cab to be bigger and look like a starship bridge, in honor of those major Trekkies, Daisy & Max.

I was in the Captain’s chair and Brownie was my First Officer and Helmsman. Since the bus drives herself most of the time, we were free to scan for life forms and blast asteroids and tell Romulans that they were dummies, and other heroic spaceman stuff. About an hour into our 5 year mission, Cupcake came in and decided we needed a Science Officer. She took her seat and was soon telling us all sorts of science stuff about spatial anomalies and planetary scans. Throughout all of this, the Bus also acted as our computer, telling us all sorts of things about nebulas and gravity waves and stuff.

Around 8:30 am, Sasha stuck her head in and said “It’s time for breakfas…HOLY CRAP, THIS IS TOTES COOL!” and then we had a Navigator. Well, at least until Admiral Grandma told us we’d all better come eat some damned breakfast.

We stopped for breakfast outside South Lake Tahoe and, as usual, the kitchen staff did a first class job. Then, after our NHT all got into human bodies, we went and for a short hike along the lake shore. We saw and spoke with some ducks, who were stopping there for a few days before heading to Bear Lake in SoCal. I have always enjoyed talking to migratory waterfowl, because they are so well traveled and interesting.

After our hike, we drove a few miles to the World Famous Slot Machine Museum. Now, this is not the only slot machine museum in the world, or even in northern Nevada, but it was close to our route and has around 5,000 slot machines to look at. The oldest was from 1897 and it still worked just fine. There were poker machines, too. We wandered around for about half an hour and the noise and lights kept the kids from getting too bored. Cupcake made sure that Grace bought t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc, not that there was much chance of her forgetting.

When we were all on board the Enterprise…err, the Bus…I was given the next leg of our route, which told me to go to Gardenerville, Nevada, then take 395 south to the small village of Lee Vining. Being a proper starship Captain, I gave the coordinates to our Helmsman and Navigator, then had my Yeoman (Jeeves) bring me a bittersweet chocolate milkshake. By now, I had a full bridge crew, having been joined by Chief Engineer Luke and Communications Officer Misty. Admiral Grandma would pop in from time to time, just to keep us on our toes.

We had just finished an epic space battle with a bunch of Romulans when Admiral Grandma said our orders would be changed and we were turning off the highway to go to Bodie, one of the great ghost towns of the West. We made our adjustments and started out into the boondocks.

Amazingly, I was the only person on the bus who had ever been to Bodie State Historical Park (which is in California, not too far from the Nevada border), which is an interesting place. It is not kept preserved except by the climate, so if you went to Bodie in the 70’s, as I did, it looks a bit different in 2019. Not hugely different, but not the same. I highly advise going there if you can.

We got there along with about 20 other tourists and then wandered around, looking at buildings, many of which still had furnishings and such inside. The general store still has products on the shelves. We read various informative signs and talked to other tourists. Brownie was a bit sad that the ghost town didn’t have any ghosts, something Cupcake found very funny. Sibling squabbling ensued.

It was starting to get pretty warm out, so we climbed back into the Bus and headed east along a series of dirt or gravel roads, our destination being Hawthorne, Nevada. To while away the time, we blasted our way through an asteroid field and evaded a Giant Space Dragon. It was all quite thrilling.

Once we hit Hawthorne, we got on Route 95 heading east, then south. After about an hour, most of the bridge crew elected to go eat some lunch, leaving me and Lt. Brownie alone to blast space junk and tell aliens to bugger off. Jeeves brought us some yummy sandwiches and milk, which all space dudes need.

About 4:00 we got to Warm Springs, where we would be turning off to Route 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, heading south toward Rachel. Just so you know, Warm Springs is not a town. It’s just an intersection with a name. And Route 375? Well, that heads down toward the ever popular Area 51, which is not full of aliens or alien tech, trust me.

With lunch in our tummies, Brownie and I decided that a nap was in order after a day of patrolling space. Thus, the next hour is a blank to both of us, although we were informed that most of the rest of the crew also napped. That part of the desert is pretty damned boring anyway.

So now we are spending the night in Rachel, Nevada, such as it is. We ate burgers at the Little A’Le’Inn and, of course, loaded up on chotzkes. In just a few minutes, games will be played and ice cream eaten before we all hit the sack. Tomorrow, we continue our trip, hopefully into some more interesting places.

Destination Sign When We Started: Whoville
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Neo Tokyo

QM Radio Station: F-23, the sounds of the 23rd Century

The Rare And Beautiful 15 Toed Melon Eating Ape Of Potawango Island

…they do love their melons.



CritterCon 12

Intro: Friday, August 9th, 5:30 PM

Note: Sadly, we are making this year’s trip without Silky, Daisy & Max, who passed away in November (Silky) and at the end of June (Daisy & Max). We miss them terribly and this trip report is dedicated to them.

Greetings once again, Dear Readers. It’s that time of year again and the Cross family will soon be off on another trip to CritterCon. Like, in about 10 hours. I will be hitting the sack as soon as I finish writing this.

This year, it’s just the immediate family making the trip by bus. All of our usual accomplices are flying into Critter City on Wednesday morning. We decided that we just wanted to take a nice meandering roadtrip with no guests or, prepare for a shock, NO PLANNED STOPS!

That’s right, folks, I am not allowed to create an itinerary of roadside attractions or natural wonders or anything else. To facilitate this, each adult member of our family, except me, has chosen a leg of our route. I will get each leg when I finish the previous one. There will be 6 legs. The only thing I know is that we’ll start in Sacramento, California and end up in Critter City, Texas. This should be interesting.

Well, my friends, it’s time to head to bed, because we are leaving at 4:00 in the morning. More trip reporting soon.